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This City in Spain Is Banning Tourists from Renting Apartments. Here's Why

Spanish capital and top holiday destination, Barcelona, announced on Friday a significant policy shift to curb the city’s soaring housing costs. By November 2028, the city will prohibit tourists from renting apartments, revoking the licenses of the 10,101 currently approved short-term rentals. The decision was announced by Mayor Jaume Collboni, who described this as a […]

Spanish capital and top holiday destination, Barcelona, announced on Friday a significant policy shift to curb the city’s soaring housing costs. By November 2028, the city will prohibit tourists from renting apartments, revoking the licenses of the 10,101 currently approved short-term rentals. The decision was announced by Mayor Jaume Collboni, who described this as a necessary step to tackle what he termed as Barcelona’s largest problem.

Housing crisis in Barcelona

The boom in short-term rentals has driven up housing costs, making Barcelona unaffordable for many residents. Over the past decade, rental prices have surged by 68%, and home buying costs have risen by 38%. This escalation has exacerbated inequality, particularly impacting young people, Collboni noted. “We are making all the necessary efforts to guarantee access to affordable housing,” he said.

Government Support and Opposition

Spain’s Socialist housing minister, Isabel Rodriguez, expressed her support for Barcelona’s decision, emphasizing the importance of affordable housing. In contrast, the city’s tourist apartments association, APARTUR, criticized the move, warning it could increase poverty and unemployment and lead to a rise in illegal tourist apartments.

Effects on Tourism and Hotels

While the ban on short-term rentals will benefit hotels, which were previously restricted from opening new locations in popular areas, the policy shift has mixed reactions. The Barcelona hotel association has yet to comment on the announcement. The potential relaxation of restrictions on new hotel openings could change the city’s hospitality landscape.

Historical Context and Enforcement

Barcelona’s local government has been stringent in regulating short-term rentals, banning new tourist apartments in recent years. Since 2016, approximately 9,700 illegal tourist apartments have been shut down, with around 3,500 apartments repurposed for local residents. The city plans to maintain a robust inspection regime to detect illegal tourist apartments once the ban takes effect.

Future Implications

This policy is part of a broader trend across Europe, where cities like Lisbon, Berlin, and Spain’s Canary Islands have implemented restrictions on short-term rentals to protect residents’ access to affordable housing. With Barcelona leading this charge, the city aims to set a precedent for balancing tourism with the needs of its residents, ensuring the city remains livable and equitable for all.

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